Blackjack Hands: What You Need To Know Before Laying Down Your Strategy

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world. It’s a game that is simple to understand but can be challenging to master. In this article, we want to discuss the different hands you might get while playing blackjack and how to make the most of them.

Blackjack hands comprise various card combinations, so it’s essential to be able to distinguish if you’re holding a strong or weak hand. We will also give you some tips on how to play for the best odds of winning!

The Good, the Bad, and the Strategy

Blackjack’s objective is simple: Beat the dealer’s hand without going over 21. While this may sound easy, blackjack is actually a very challenging game of strategy. You will get various combos, and you want to play every hand to the best of its possibilities.

Everyone wants to win, but winning blackjack hands are rare. First off, you’re playing against the dealer, and the dealer’s hand represents the house, and, as we all know, the house always wins in the end. Therefore, if you want to keep your money, and possibly add to the stack at the end of the evening, you need to know when to stand and wait for the dealer to bust, and when to double down and capitalize on a good hand.

To do that, we must first understand the possibilities of the cards we have in hand, and our chances of winning, depending on the dealer’s hand. The blackjack variant you’re playing can also have an impact on blackjack hand rankings too.

Therefore, before we list the best and worst hands you can get in a blackjack game, we need to learn what soft and hard hands are, as they play a crucial role in forging a winning strategy.

What Is a Soft Hand in Blackjack?

In blackjack, a “soft hand” refers to a hand that contains an ace card. The ace can be counted as either 1 or 11, which gives the player more flexibility. A soft hand is generally considered better than a hard hand (a hand without an ace), as it provides the player with more options and thus increases their chances of winning.

However, it is important to note that a soft hand can quickly become a hard hand if the player draws another card and goes over 21. For example, let’s say that you have an ace and a six – that’s considered a “soft” 17. In other words, you can draw another card without the risk of going bust.

If you were to draw something like a Queen or a King, which has a value of 10, your ace would count as a one, and your hand would again be a 17, only this time it is a “hard” 17.

In the same scenario, if you were to draw a four with the soft 17 you held at the beginning of the hand, your total would be 21 – the ultimate winning hand in blackjack. That shows how soft hands always mean more options. And if you were to get a two or a three, your score would be 19 or 20, which is still an improvement over the 17 you got with your first two cards.

However, players must be careful when playing soft hands and always keep an eye on the dealer’s cards. If the dealer has a strong hand, it may be best to play it safe and stand on your soft hand.

What Is a Hard Hand in Blackjack?

Just because hard hands present a less flexible strategy than soft hands doesn’t mean they cannot be blackjack winning hands. As mentioned, a hard hand is aceless, or its ace can only be worth a single point. If counting the ace as 11 would put the hand over 21 points, that would mean your hand is “busting.”

There are two basic ways to play a hard hand: You can “hit” – take another card from the dealer in hopes of improving your hand – or “stand,” i.e., keep your current hand and hope the dealer busts.

Hitting or standing on hard hands is tricky, and requires you to create a blackjack strategy beforehand. There’s not much room for error: Either you improve your hand or bust.

On the plus side, most blackjack strategy charts are based on hard hands since they’re much more common than soft hands. Therefore, you can refer to a basic strategy chart to memorize some options for possible hard hands.

Best Blackjack Hands

A natural or blackjack is the best hand that you can possibly get, and it comprises an ace with a ten-value card. You’re the automatic winner, unless the dealer also got a blackjack from his first two cards, in which case it’s a tie, or “push,” as it’s called in blackjack terms. The chances of getting this hand with a six-deck shoe are 4.75% – once in every 21 hands.

Every time you have an ace, that improves your chances significantly, because it reduces your chances of going “bust” with the next card.

One of the best hands in blackjack you can hope for is a hard 20. The dealer can always win with 21, but the odds are more in your favor. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t split a hand like that, which many novices do, as that would lower your chance of winning. A hard 20 is a strong hand and you should stick with it.

Other good hands would be those that result in a total of 10 or 11. That way, there’s a good chance your next card is going to be a ten-value card, putting you in a very strong position to get a 20 or 21 score.

Worst Blackjack Hands

A hand of 16 is never going to be easy to play to your satisfaction. If you get a pair of eights, the only rational thing to do is split them up, as you have much better chances to land on a 10-value card and get a decent score of 18.

A hard hand of 16 is an even bigger challenge, especially if you’re going against a dealer’s 10-value card. With that hand, you have a 62% probability of busting with another card.

If you get a hand of 12, 13, or 14, it’s going to be hard to make that into a winning hand in blackjack. Still, you should play the numbers and give yourself the best chance you can. For example, if the dealer has something in the four to six range, they’ll have to draw again; if the card in the hole is a 10 or a face card, they risk going bust with the next card they draw, which they’ll have to do to reach 17, which is the required minimum for the house. In this case, you should stand and see what luck brings you.

Bottom Line

Blackjack has been popular for so long because it is easy to play, has pretty straightforward rules, and is the one game where casinos have the least edge over players. Also, the worst and best blackjack hand are equally fun to play, especially in friendly games. All this contributes to its popularity.

The fast pace and excitement of the game make it an enjoyable experience for casual and serious players alike. We hope the tips we shared will help you enjoy your game even more and, of course, improve your chances when playing blackjack. Good luck!


What's the worst hand in blackjack?

The worst hands are those that have a high chance of busting. Hands ranging from 13 to 16 are very risky because, even if the dealer has a low card, you still might bust if you hit. It’s always better to play it safe with these hands and just stand.

What are your odds of winning with different types of hands?

Your odds of winning really depend on what the dealer is showing and what you have in hand. If the dealer is showing a low card and you have a hand below 12, your odds are pretty good. However, if the dealer is showing a high card and you have a hand above 17, your odds aren’t great. If you want to learn how to be good at blackjack, you should study the odds to make strategies for the most common outcomes.

What are hands in blackjack?

In any card game, a hand is the combination of cards held by the player. The value of a hand is determined by adding up the point values of the individual cards. The main goal of blackjack is to have a hand with a higher point value than the dealer’s hand, without going over 21. There are 34 different blackjack hands you might draw.

Is an ace 1 or 11 in blackjack?

In the game of blackjack, an ace can be worth either 1 or 11 points, depending on what is advantageous for the player in that particular hand. When the ace is worth 11 points, it is called a “soft hand” because the player can choose to count it as one, instead, if doing so would be more beneficial.